The Power of No

Personally, I’ve never really believed it–that saying ‘no’ is the fast track to ‘yes.’ The subject is dating. Is this a law of physics? If it is, that explains it–I never took physics.

Recently I was privy to a conversation that was taking place between two single men in their 50’s–so we’re not talking about teenagers here. One asked the other how things were going with a particular woman. The answer was that he hadn’t heard from her, and I surmised from the rest of what was said that this was par for the course. Apparently she only sometimes returned his calls and this was because she was “busy.” She was so busy that they had never even met face-to-face. What was interesting to me was that the man in question seemed not to not be deterred, but only to be made all the more intent in his quest to just meet this woman. Essentially she was saying ‘no’ by her lack of response and yet, this only seemed to egg him on.

To me, all of the above sounded too much like a game–one of those myriad silly cat and mouse games that teenage boys and girls play, as do, I have found out to my great distress, adult men and women. Games supposedly designed with the intent to win the other over. (Most regrettably, apparently nothing here changes with age.)

I don’t get it and I never have. Why not, if you are interested in someone, can you not let that be known and then proceed in a straightforward manner to wherever that might lead? Apparently that is counter to the laws of dating perversity, and make no mistake about it, dating is often perverse, no matter the age of the participants. No wonder I have never really had a taste for that sport.

Regardless, I have, for most of my life, tended to ignore the alleged rules in many areas, so why should the dating rules provide an exception? The answer is they don’t and they haven’t. I have not succumbed to the being-busy-when-I’m-not syndrome, nor have I not returned phone calls or e-mails just to pique a man’s curiosity or desire. All of that seems so high school. Surely I have gone beyond that and have better uses for my time.

And yet, friends continue to tell me that I just can’t play it straight with straight men and then get what I want, assuming that means the man. Men like a chase. Men like women who are difficult. Men like women who are not available. Men like women who seem not to like them. Men like a challenge.

I’ll tell you what. If men really do like all of this perversity, they had all better just sign up for a lifetime of therapy and get themselves straightened out, because what kind of a way is that to live?

OK, so I am still playing by my no-games rules, and probably suffering for it. While doing that, though, I actually said ‘no’ to two men I recently met and had at first thought might have some potential for me. Soon after meeting each of them, I discovered things right up front that I knew would not work for me in the long run. So, I told each of them, right up front, that I was not the one they had had in mind.

The next thing that happened was most astounding. They each came back and said they would like to continue communication anyway…but why, and for what, were my immediate questions. I couldn’t figure it out until I remembered the deviant rules that govern dating and that I don’t follow, but everyone else apparently does. These guys were responding to The Power of No.

So all of that perverse advice everyone has been trying to give me actually works? Apparently so. This I found most perturbing. To men, it seems ‘no’ means ‘yes’…or seemingly better yet, “maybe.” I hate that. It’s doublespeak.

I could never understand the value of that seemingly naïve and over-simplified platitude that Nancy Reagan contributed to American society, “Just say no.” I know that it was in relation to teenagers and drugs that this line was coined, but now I also think Mrs. Reagan perhaps understood a lot more about perversity than I gave her credit for. She, after all, had her man, and now I wonder if she perhaps got him by “just saying no.” She most likely knew the well used trick of saying “no” as the avenue to getting what she really wanted. (Could she have wanted drugs?)

I’m sorry, but if that’s what it takes to get what I want, then I’ll have to go without. I refuse to say no when I mean yes. When I say no, I mean no, plain and simple, and any man who has ever heard that from me has learned pretty quickly, despite any initial disbelief, that I really do mean what I say and say what I mean.

No doublespeak spoken here, so I can only hope that the Power of No is as forceful when ‘NO’ is really the intended message as it is when it’s not. With me ‘no’ has only one meaning–and it’s not ‘yes.’

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